I’m thrilled to share that CommandBar has raised a fresh $19M in Series A funding, led by Insight Partners and Itai Tsiddon.
Since our launch and seed announcement in August, we’ve shipped CommandBar to 3M+ end users across world-class, forward-thinking software companies like HashiCorp, Netlify, ClickUp, Gusto, LaunchDarkly, and many others.
We exist because of an expectation shift happening in software. Users expect the tools they use to be simple and fast, and to go from intent to action without friction. This round allows us to bring CommandBar to tons more users and help software companies not just meet – but capitalize on – this expectation shift.
Why we started
Richard, Vinay, and I started CommandBar while we were creating other software. We were getting frustrated with the UX we were delivering: new users struggled to understand how our app worked, power users found it slow, and our UI was getting more and more bloated with every release. We thought that maybe a command palette could help us tame these problems. After we built that v0, the results were so good that we thought, “Why doesn’t every app have this feature?” We decided it was because the feature was hard to build well because there were so many details that needed to be done right to make a feature that all users could actually rely on (versus try once and forget about).
So we started CommandBar to change that and make command palettes a building block of modern software and a user expectation.
We were really excited about what we’d built and we had a hypothesis that it could help software companies deliver great UX to all their users. But we had some outstanding questions:
- Would all users benefit from CommandBar, or only a subset?
- Was the CommandBar experience a nice-to-have, or something users would rely on repeatedly to use their apps?
- Would CommandBar be useful in different types of apps — complex vs. simple, frequently vs. infrequently used.
What we’ve learned
Since launching, we’ve built increasing confidence in each of these questions.
- Users of all demographics use CommandBar. Power users use us for speed and shortcuts. Casual users and those less comfortable with software use us as an approachable alternative to underlying UI.
- Users rely on CommandBar throughout their lifecycle. In their first few sessions, it's an escape hatch. Later on, it's a fast way to execute on your common workflows.
- Users across lots of different types of app categories — from devs in Netlify, to product managers assigning tasks in Shortcut, to small business owners running payroll through Gusto.
These findings give us confidence that CommandBar is a building block that works across demographics, segments, and categories.
What’s driving this
There’s a famous blog post from 2000 called “The End of Web Design” that explains why most software looks the same: because users spend most of their time in other apps, your UI should use the same building blocks as every other app – buttons, menus, tables, etc – because those are the building blocks users know and expect. We’ve gotten really, really good at rearranging these building blocks to create great user experiences.
But clearly those building blocks shouldn’t be the end of web design, or software design. We believe the equilibrium of software design is being perturbed by an expectation shift, caused by:
- Fragmented attention budgets: In 2000, we relied on maybe 3 apps, so we could learn how all the menus were structured and what all the buttons did. Now, we use so many apps that it’s impossible to remember how every UI works. It’s also too slow to spend time reading help articles or talking to humans (or bots) to answer a question about how to get the software to do its job. The digital equivalent of “sorry for the long letter; I didn’t have time to write a shorter one.”
- 2-day shipping effect: The phrase “consumerization of the enterprise” has been beaten to death but does convey something useful: we all use good software every day. We’re used to casually using Google every day to query the sum of human knowledge. Using software that enchants us makes it hard to use software that makes us read a help article or talk to a human (or bot) to get the software to do its job. We call it the 2-day shipping effect, because, like 2-day shipping: you didn’t know you needed it, but once you experience it, it’s hard to go back.
- Quicksand software: Software used to be built release-by-release. Now, it’s shipped continuously. The stream of new features bug fixes and performance improvements makes it hard for users to keep up. In fact, there’s no reasonable expectation for users to keep up.
Together, these point to a need for building blocks that make it faster to go from intent to action. From “I want to do X” to “X is now done.” We are obsessed with driving this loop to zero and making software move at the speed of thoughts. Whether you’re using an app for the first time or use it for hours every day, going from intent to action fast is when software thrives and lets users stay in flow. Commanding software, if you will :)
Now that we’re so confident in this expectation shift, our primary goal is to bring CommandBar to as many apps and end users as possible. We’re also embarking on some ambitious projects this year to make our customers’ software simpler and fast:
- Mobile CommandBar — today CommandBar only works in web apps. This year that changes. The forces driving the expectation shift on desktop are just as if not more acute on mobile.
- More end-user preferences — we recently released User-Customizable Shortcuts, and we want to give end users more control over their in-app experiences.
- Better recommendations — so end users can get personalized nudges without apps having to write recommendation logic.
- Better natural language search — natural language is more approachable than specific syntax.
- And a lot more.
Building CommandBar is incredibly fun and rewarding. We have a canvas inside some of the world’s coolest apps to shape UX. That’s a privilege we don’t take for granted that motivates us every day.
We’ve assembled a team of 14 that we’re really proud of, but we need help to make CommandBar the ubiquitous building block we think it should be. If this blog excites you and you’re ambitious, we think it’s an excellent time to join us. A few reasons:
- Our ratio of impact to team size is high (and we intend to keep it that way). Check out our open roles here.
- There is a lot of room to grow and lead teams (if you’re into that) as we scale. A lot of the roles we’re hiring for are the first in the function so you’ll need to bring 0 to 1 energy.
- The team we’ve assembled so far is world-class — talented, curious, kind, and obsessed with building delightful, fast, simple software.
And if you don’t see one that matches what you do but are excited about what we’re doing, email us. We believe in building roles around talented and excited people.